Yesterday, I had the distinguished privilege of sitting down for a chat with seasoned Image Consultant and CEO/Founder of Visually Appealing, LLC, Elizabeth Rouprich. I met Elizabeth back in February at the SHE Columbia fashion show where she coordinated, styled, emceed…basically called the shots. I was instantly struck by Elizabeth’s personal style and her welcoming yet expert demeanor. Since the show, we have become friends and I have to say I’ve gained some serious insight into the highly competitive and always evolving fashion industry, through my conversations with her. Well, in the spirit of giving, I don’t want to hog Elizabeth all for myself! And luckily for us, she agreed to do an exclusive interview for Whimsington Gardens, answering questions about the nature of the industry, her career highlights, her favorite Fall 13′ trends and more! Read on, for the full scoop:
K: I’d like to start by clarifying for my readers what exactly it is that an Image Consultant does?
E: There are a lot of different roles an image consultant plays. What I do is primarily personal shopping, image assessment, color analysis and closet editing. But the role can also stem out to fashion show coordinating, makeup artistry and hair styling…anything that is image or beauty related can fall under the umbrella. Most image consultants do image assessment on an individual basis, but I also work with a modeling agency in town as a commercial stylist for photo shoots, TV commercials and films that are shooting in the area. I teach a little etiquette at the modeling agency as well, but other consultants may make etiquette classes their main focus. Every consultant has their niche.
K: Do you often style men or is your clientele base primarily female?
E: I prefer working with women, but I can style men too! Working at Parisian, a now out of business department store, for the first half of my career taught me how to dress men. Also, my dad was good training for me.
K: What inspired you to enter the highly competitive fashion industry?
E: I have always loved clothes. My mom says that she remembers me being really young and playing in my closet, changing outfits five times a day. I had a grandmother with closets full of gorgeous beaded gowns from the 1920’s that I was fascinated by and I was always flipping through fashion magazines. Once I got older, people started asking me to help them pick out outfits, prom dresses or help them style their weddings. To this day, my mom will call me and ask me to help her pick out outfits for a special night out.
K: From there, did you pursue an education in fashion? What is your background?
E: I have an Associate’s Degree in fashion merchandising from Anderson University and a Bachelor’s in fashion merchandising from University of South Carolina. I’ve also been certified in image consulting and color analysis through MacKenzie Image Consulting.
K: What would you say has so far been the highlight of your career?
E: Before I had my own business and was working for Parisian, I met Oscar de la Renta and to this day he is the most charming and charismatic guy I have ever met! We were launching a fragrance of his at the time and he came to a banquette we were having. He came around to every table, sat down to talk to us and shook our hands. He didn’t act anything like you would expect a high profile person to, you know… sitting off in the corner waiting on you to approach him. He was so charming. Another time, I got to style two reality stars that live in Greenville. They were on the Bachelor Pad; one was from the Bachelor and the other was from the Bachelorette. One of those tabloid magazines, In Touch, did an article on them and asked me to style them! It was so cool. They sent a photographer down from NYC and hired me to style the whole shoot, from wardrobe to bedding. I had the bed covered in rose petals and basically bought out the local Pier One!
K: How have you seen the fashion industry change throughout your career?
E: I was in sales and visual merchandising for half of my life and that has changed dramatically. To me there are not many stores that offer customer service anymore. White House Black Market is still pretty good about greeting you and pulling clothes for you.
K: Once place that is good about doing that is Express, and I always take notice.
E: Yeah, Express does do a good job of that and so does Nordstrom, White House Black Market again and the local Belk. But at most stores these days you’re lucky to get eye contact once you walk in and for someone who doesn’t like to shop and doesn’t have a stylist, that’s a service that’s missing.
K: Who are your favorite iconic designers?
E: If money was no object and I could buy whatever I wanted to? Roberto Cavalli, I love pattern mixing and anything colorful! My personal style is more rocker chic; I love studs-everything! Studded shoes, studded purses, you name it. I also love Tom Ford, even though he’s more classic, he still has that edginess. Also Alexander McQueen when he was still alive. Even though his designs are so out there, his stuff is so theatrical! I think of Lady Gaga when I think of him…very performance oriented. But I’d have to say shoe designers are my favorite! Brian Atwood, Nicholas Kirkwood and Giuseppe Zanotti. On the more budget friendly side I love Sam Edelman, Dolce Vita and Vince Camutto. Vince Camuto has some cool laser cut boots for this fall.
K: Speaking of fall, cooler weather is just around the corner and a lot of us have already started fall shopping. What are some of your favorite trends for the fall/Winter 13’ season?
E: Mixing shades of gray! A sort of monochromatic look. Also stacking different shades of green; I’ve been seeing lots of olive for fall 13’ which is not a color that everyone can pull off. Color blocking is still around for this season and leather is still going to be big, if it gets cold enough for it in South Carolina. I saw on one site that full 1940’s style skirts are going to be big, but that’s not my favorite look.
K: So what about trends that you don’t like? What would you like to see go far far away?
E: Nothing in particular that’s coming in for fall, but there are a few things I don’t ever want to be repeated: coolats and gauchos from the 70s.
E: There like wide-legged capris and when you have your legs closed it looks like you’re wearing a skirt. Also I don’t like the mid-calf skirts that are popping up. That’s not a flattering length on many people although it could work if paired with knee high boots.
K: Do you have a beauty routine or products that you swear by?
E: Obagi…you have to go through a plastic surgeon or dermatologist to get it, but it’s for women over 40 if they’re starting to get brown spots. It has retinae as an ingredient, so you have to be really careful and wear a high SPF sunscreen, like SPF 50, but it has taken a ton of brown spots off my face. I use the whole line right now and so far I really like it, it’s also gotten rid of fine lines. Although the process of starting it is a nightmare. It’s like having a chemical peel for 6 weeks. My husband asked me if my skin was ever going to be a normal color again. But now, it was worth it.
K: How about cosmetic products?
E: I’m not really loyal to a lot of other products because I like to change it up and try new things….I’ve been using revitalash….and I love it!! My lashes are a lot longer… As far as makeup, I have to have mascara, some sort of lip balm, nude color lip-stick and sun screen.
K: I really need to be better about wearing my sunscreen!
E: Just do it for 30 days and it will become a routine…Just do it!
K: What advice would you give people who are considering a career in the fashion industry?
E: Immerse yourself in your area of interest whether it’s makeup, clothes or whatever niche of fashion you’re interested in. Sales, merchandising…whatever. Intern whether it’s paid or unpaid to make sure it’s what you want to do. Do what you love and the money will come! If you have a positive attitude about things, jobs will fall into your lap. I haven’t had to beat down doors for a lot of my work, it’s been about thinking positively and putting yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you’re doing!! It can be scary putting yourself out there at first, but you have to!
As we go to press, Elizabeth is prepping for upcoming fashion shows and events for SHE Greenville, Haywood Mall and plentiful other haute gigs. She might make it look effortlessly fabulous, but the job of an Image Consultant isn’t just a well heeled walk in the park. As she exemplifies, it takes passion, dedication, talent and business savvy to succeed in the industry. But most of all an undying belief in yourself and your dreams!
Peace, Love and Ankle Booties